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My Trip to Germany
Nomvula (centre) with some of the YLP participants

On March 19, I woke up very early with excitement at the fact that I was going to the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) in Germany on invitation from the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP). My luggage was already packed and everything I needed was in place. I was anxious to get going and meet all the friends I had made on Facebook. I went to the Health Academy to say goodbye to my colleagues and later got a ride to the airport from Ben-one of our volunteers.

My first flight was to the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg. Here, I met up with Stacey Naris-one of the participants I met on Facebook. Stacey is a professional Namibian football player who also works for Go Girl. We boarded our flight to Zurich together. I enjoyed this flight the most because this was going to be my first time abroad.

After this 10 HOUR flight, we had to run all over the airport in order to make it to our boarding gate on time. Luckily, we made it five minutes early. We boarded our one-hour flight to Berlin, landed, collected our luggage and met up with Ben Taylor and Jamie LaFlamme who are two of the organisers of the camp. They were holding up "YLP" signs and welcomed us with both arms open. That is when I knew that I was not lost and that this could be my second home. Then I met eight other participants who came from Kenya, Nigeria and parts of Asia.

We went to Kienbaum sport centre- where we spent most of our time at the camp. I met Anna and Jairos. They were interns with UNOSDP in organising the camp. They showed us our rooms and later that day I met more participants and two facilitators from the Right to Play organisation. After that we started learning about leadership in sports and started sharing our leadership stories.

During the camp we had an excursion throughout Berlin and we learnt about the history of East and West Germany. I saw the German parliament, statues, tours and then we went to a burger restaurant where we had our lunch. 

Several participants and I visited the Streetfootballworld offices since we belonged to their partner organisations. I enjoyed being in the office, got to learn a lot more about them and played some table tennis while I was there.

I also went to a high-level dinner, met representatives from Ministries of Sport from around the world, ambassadors and Mr. Willi Lemke- The United Nations Secretary Generals Special advisor on sport for development and peace. The food was delicious, the entertainment was great and the conversation was flowing for the rest of the night.

The learning and fun never stopped throughout the camp. On the last day, I was surprised to learn how the other participants thought of me through an exercise we had to do- we each had to write a comment about each person on a piece of paper. That night we danced partied, laughed at our comedians and slept late.

On departure day, I woke up early, said goodbye to some of the participants and went to breakfast. I was surprised to find that it was just me and another participant at breakfast. It was lonely and I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I never thought such a short time could influence me so positively, and I believe that sport has no barriers. It can bring people together all around the world.

Let Me Tell You How to Be a Queen

Let me tell you how to be a queen.

To be a queen is not about clothes, money and materialistic things but it is about who sits on the throne of her heart. It is about what she allows to rule and reign out of her mouth.

Queens cherish every moment in life, a second is important, a minute counts and an hour is your whole life. Make sure you spend it with the attitude of a queen.

You are a queen, I am a queen, we are all queens. We are all created and born with a special queen factor. No man will ever survive without a queen in his heart and his life. We support our loved ones, friends, community, but your health comes first always. Remember healthy minds live in healthy bodies. I do not know about you but having this magnificent behavior empowers me. Never ever let anyone or anything break your spirit.

 

The following piece of work was written by Sonwabile of the Siyakhona group. Siyakhona is a programme in which we educate a selected number of gifted boys and girls about the power of creative expression especially through photography, video and social media.

From Edendale to Brazil: The preparation continues
The Brazil Group, bonding.

Since most of you already know, myself and a group of six youth leaders from around Edendale are going to teh 2014 Footbal World Cup in July. We are SO excited about this opportunity to see a new part of the world and to be giving Edendale, Pietermaritzburg and WhizzKids United some great exposure.

Some updates:

Over the past few weeks, we have become a very close group. We train almost everyday and have visited each others homes and schools. It is really nice to see how proud people are that we are gong to represent hem in Brazil.

We have also been brainstorming a lot about how to raise money to cover some of the costs of the trip. We have gone door to door around the neighbourhood to ask for support. Also, McDonalds has agreed to let the six work for them and to donate some of the money they make during that time towards the trip. So if you are reading this and will be around The Edendale Mall on the 3rd and 4th of April, PLEASE COME AND BUY SOME BURGERS AND CHIPS FROM US!!

All in all, we are excited and we hope you will stay tuned as we go from Edendale to Brazil!

I am proud to be a Game Changer
GameChangers group activity

Written by Nontobeko

I’m Nontobeko Malembe from Moscow and I’m part of Game Changers. Game Changers is a youth empowerment project, which aims to provide 17-24 year olds with job related skills in order to secure employment or training.

My first day at Game Changers was difficult because I didn’t know what was going to happen and what I was going to do, but now it easy because I see where I am going. We have classes about what to do in an interview,  knowing your strengths and weaknesses, how to face your challenges, how to write a motivational letter, how to do a presentation, things you need in order to be a good coach, how to plan your goals and we have tasks to improve our English.

We also have learned about the WhizzKids United life-skills programme known as On The Ball (OTB). On The Ball (OTB) teaches us how to relate sport to life. We have sessions on lots of things including goals, teams and positions, HIV and AIDS and also prevention and protection where we relate soccer to life.

I feel like now there’s nothing can stop me from achieving my goals because I know how to deal with my challenges and I know more about life. I can do anything to achieve my goal!

I’m proud to be a Game Changer.

What GameChangers does for me
GameChangers during their sports activities

Written by Sonwabile

Growing up with a single parent has not been easy for me. From not being able to have a lunch box to being unable to go to private school, the situation I was living in taught me to face the reality of the world and realise that education is the key to success. However when I finished my matric I was unable to further my studies due to insufficient financial security at home.

But my life changed when I started attending Whizzkids United, and it was a very warm welcome to see how friendly the councillors were.  Attending Whizzkids allowed me to see how it works and how they help underprivileged young people. For example they help children from different schools by giving them food parcels to take home and help them with any subjects that they are struggling with. One day I saw a poster about photo journalism and I applied. I was really lucky to be selected as it is a great programme all about cameras, how to use them to take good pictures, how to write good stories and how to make posters.

Then I applied for a programme that changed by my life completely. Game Changers is a programme that aims to provide work related skills to help us increase our chances of employment. The programme will run for a year and it offers lots of opportunities to increase our employability and introduces us to a working environment, as well as giving us a month internship with a local company.

Whizzkids has done more than enough for me. They gave me back purpose and have provided direction for me. They must keep going what they do best. I’m sure that Whizzkids will give many more young people hope, life and most importantly a bright future. I’m one of those young people.

Great few weeks in Durban

Now, that I am working for WhizzKids United already for a whole month it is time for my first blog. Time really flies. When I agreed to volunteer at WhizzKids, I had no idea that it was so difficult to know where to start. Because there are so many impressions. I decided to write my blog in a chronicle order. I arrived at King Shaka airport at the 16th of October and just burst in into the rainy season of Durban. Nevertheless, I received a warm welcome by the whole team, which also represents the high appreciation of volunteers working for WhizzKids United.

I am involved with the “Siyakhona programme”, a project that teaches young people to use cameras and digital media. The participants are very interested in the program and each weekly meeting is big fun. We just started to design posters using “children´s rights” as a theme. At the moment we are collecting suitable pictures and teaching poster-making basics. We also have a news board in the Health Academy, which the kids fill every month with information about the happenings at WhizzKids United and around the community. Last week we went out to a small local food market to take pictures and interviewed the salesmen. The group members were very passionate and took their job very serious, which was really nice to observe.

My personal highlight of the past time with WhizzKids United definitely was the football tournament Ashtown Primary school, organised by using the “On the Ball programme” concept. We had about 250 children and the weather conditions were really fantastic. It was a pleasure to watch the kids play. The most impressive thing I saw were two kids sharing a pair of shoes, one child used one and the other used one. How great is that? Disadvantage in the end, I forgot to put on sun cream and was rewarded with a bad sunburn.Besides work, living in South Africa allows me to gather great experiences. The people are so relaxed and the area in and around Durban has a lot to offer. Until now, I can say that I totally enjoyed my first weeks in Durban. Fortunately there are some more!

They say parting is for better reencounter

For me, Africa is such a simple and yet complicated continent. It’s simple because the people are so warm-hearted and make you feel at home, and yet complicated because people are suffering due to poverty and unhealthy living conditions. These challenges need the many professionals all over the world to unite and help conquer the problems that Africa faces.
WhizzKids United is one of the best NGOs who fight on the front line against HIV/AIDS in one of South Africa’s most affected areas, Pietermaritzburg. With my dedicated heart and promising public health professional knowledge and skills, I am honored to have joined WKU as a volunteer and an intern. During the three months at WKU, I’ve experienced various adolescent-focused activities and services, such as sexual-reproductive health intervention and life skills training using football as a metaphor in dealing with the HIV pandemic. I got involved in the feeding scheme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, and many other fun activities provided to clients who come to the Health Academy. This has been a mind opening journey for me to work in and live in such a child-friendly environment and see how much fun the children are having. Their smiles make me happy.
I held the position of program coordinator at WKU. Being based at the Durban office slightly changed my responsibilities and gave me opportunities to work for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) programme. I have been very fortunate to work on the annual report and eventually submitting it to the funder of Meal-A-Day; this project began when I opted to help my program manager to gather information and statistics that would be presented as a form of a report- the report also clearly defined the organization’s hard work and progress during the past year. This was a great chance to monitor and evaluate the OVC program in-depth. There have been several challenges of gathering different data, but we finally managed to come up with an improved and more efficient approach to track data. Meanwhile, it is also exciting to participate in the process of developing WKU’s promising Monitoring & Evaluation programme.
All in all, it has been a wonderful experience at WKU, but sadly I need to go back to the missions awaiting me. I wish I could stay longer so I could have taken many more responsibilities that need more time to undertake. As the saying goes, “being apart opens a door to reunite”, so hopefully I will come back to this charming country and contribute my efforts again.

No time like the present

So, I am probably the only volunteer that WKU has had working on its projects who has no idea about football, but that doesn´t seem to be a problem as I am having a great time taking photos, meeting people and travelling around as well as doing some interesting project work.

We have been here for 3 months and we are really enjoying ourselves; we both have our different work to do. Spencer is an accountant and has taken charge of the financial affairs of the charity and I am project managing, teaching a group together with introducing and embedding some quality assurance aspects.

Some of my time is spent teaching and working with a group of young people – showing them how to use digital media to describe their lives.  This is now taking off, and they are having fun learning new techniques and skills with the computer and cameras.

Recently the group had fun taking photos at the Coaches Across Continents event; there are now 27 photos on the CAC website all taken by this group. Next week sees us all learning how to use the cameras to make films. The group are all still in school and want to have the opportunity improve their skills, have fun and make new friends.  Another aspect of this project is for the young people to encourage others to come to the HA, see their work and to engage with the projects that are offered there.

One year with WhizzKids- office work, vegetable garden and a new football pitch.
"Enjoying my time at WKU"

It was the 5th October 2012 when I arrived at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Since then 12 months have gone and I’m with WhizzKids already for a year. It’s been an amazing time with many memorable highlights.

The last months with WhizzKids United have been very busy. Time flies like the wind and there wasn’t even time to write a few lines for the blog. WhizzKids United is like a never sleeping city – always busy. People are coming and leaving. I’ve worked with 12 different international volunteers in the programme team, and a total of 19 volunteers joined and left our organization. I met some amazing people during my last year with WhizzKids United and it was a pleasure to work with so many passionate people for the aim of a HIV-free young generation in Edendale, Kwa-Zulu Natal and all over South Africa. I really enjoy this intercultural experience, to learn from other people, listen to their stories and understand their culture. It made me more sensitive towards other people and broadened my view of the world.

If I review the last couple of months there are lots of highlights that I’ve experienced. Our tournaments at Sinamuva Primary and Siyahlomula High School in May this year were definitely one of them. For the first time we combined the football tournament with an HCT (HIV Counseling and Testing) campaign. It was very promising and we will continue with it in the future. It was a pleasure to see how much the youth enjoy playing football and how interested they are in the Health Academy and our work.

I was also very happy when we started a new vegetable garden at the Siyahlomula High School which was one of our objectives of the OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) programme. We organize seedlings for some surrounding schools from our partner, Sunshine seedlings, and it was very nice to put together a plan of actions with the students. We planted spring onions, cabbages, cauliflower and beetroot for the school kitchen. Seeing the plants blossom was definitely emotion for me and to see the good work materialize gave me some sort of a good balance compared to my usual office work.

The ground breaking ceremony for the new Football for Hope Center in May this year was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my stay. The whole organization was looking forward to this day and we all worked very hard to make this happen. It was very interesting to see how relieved the people have been that were involved in the whole process of applying, planning and re-planning, preparing and re-preparing. Since May the construction proceeded and we hope to hold the opening ceremony by the beginning of next year. Unfortunately I probably won’t be with WhizzKids anymore by that time.

The most recent highlight was the Coaches across Continents (CAC) visit last week. It was such fun to work with Nick Gates and his colleague Nora Dooley. I really enjoyed being on the football pitch, to work with children and youth, boys and girls and feel the power of football for social impact as well as to improve my own coaching skills. I realized that after my time with WhizzKids I would very much like to continue to use football as a medium for education and empowerment, be in direct contact with the young generation to help them to be “shape their future with their feet”.

Peering through the looking glass
The first of the news boards produced by the children

They say that as you get older time goes more quickly. That may be true, but really, this is getting ridiculous now! As I reach the end of my time in South Africa it seems like just yesterday that I arrived open-minded and pasty-faced in April, full of anticipation for my time with WhizzKids United. Over the last six months I have spent valuable time with some great children in Edendale; made small-talk with an Oscar-winner; and been fortunate enough to be involved in the day-to-day running of some great projects. 

With all this in mind, it seems a fitting time to share with everyone a new project which WhizzKids United has recently embarked upon. Soon after I started working here, the opportunity arose for us to apply for funding with FIFA and Sony for a project focused around digital media. Always looking for opportunities to diversify the services which we offer at our Health Academy, and harbouring a passion for photography myself, we put together an engaging programme for 14 local youth to take part in an innovative 10 month training project. 

Several months down the line, I am pleased to say that funding was approved and we are now deep into our project ‘Through the Looking Glass’. We have recruited an enthusiastic group of youngsters all with an interest in furthering their skills and enhancing their career opportunities in areas such as journalism. In partnership with local company Full Circle Communications, our team has been developing their knowledge of digital media equipment, storytelling and design through the production of bi-weekly news boards displayed at the Health Academy. These will inform readers about recent activities within the community, but the team will also be working on producing health promotion information based around themes which have been agreed in-line with the Department for Health.

Whilst our team will clearly benefit from the skills and experience which they will gain during this programme, the project will reach wider than this. The materials produced will not only give them practice in what they have learnt but serve as a fun and interesting way of communicating with the local community. This incentive looks to encourage people to visit the Health Academy and increase the uptake of its services, something that is a central objective behind all of our extra-curricular activities. 

My time with WhizzKids United has bought many great moments, but developing Through the Looking Glass has been one of my most satisfying achievements. Being able to see a project through to fruition from initial conception and planning to delivery and workshop facilitation is hugely rewarding, and the children have been great to work with. Keep your eye on the WhizzKids United website, Facebook page and blog to be up to date with the children’s progress – who knows, we may have some future Pulitzer Prize winners in the making!    

Thanks to the WhizzKids United team and children for giving me an unforgettable experience in South Africa. May they reach higher heights than before and create a positive impact so that the organisation may continue to grow, whilst the need for it possibly diminishes.  

LATEST POSTS

» April 15th, 2014
My Trip to Germany

» April 7th, 2014
Let Me Tell You How to Be a Queen

» March 28th, 2014
From Edendale to Brazil: The preparation continues

» March 4th, 2014
I am proud to be a Game Changer

» February 27th, 2014
What GameChangers does for me

» November 26th, 2013
Great few weeks in Durban

» November 11th, 2013
They say parting is for better reencounter

» October 28th, 2013
No time like the present

» October 17th, 2013
One year with WhizzKids- office work, vegetable garden and a new football pitch.

» September 26th, 2013
Peering through the looking glass


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